Making Connections Intervention (MCI)

A pilot randomized controlled clinical trial is studying the effectiveness of the MCI in 60 Black adolescents who have depression symptoms and attend grades 6-12 within New York City Department of Education Public Schools.

The intervention has been devised to address barriers to engagement, in youth, as well as their caregivers.

Funder: National Institute of Mental Health
Principal Investigator: Michael A. Lindsey, PhD

The goal of The Making Connections Intervention (MCI) is to increase the likelihood that adolescents with serious psychiatric illness successfully participate in targeted mental health care. The MCI consists of one or two primer sessions intended to “front load” adolescents with the support and skills they need to begin mental health treatment. Addressing factors that influence treatment acceptability (i.e., engagement, perceived relevance, and service satisfaction) prior to treatment participation is a powerful concept that has the potential to enhance help-seeking behaviors. Thus, with support of caregivers, we intend to empower adolescents to identify perceptual and actual barriers that influence their treatment acceptability and equip them with the skills to overcome these barriers.

The MCI sessions will be delivered by a trained clinician. The clinician will have a unique understanding of the fac- tors that influence treatment acceptability among adolescents. Among other things, the clinician will assess an adolescent’s readiness for change, determine the family’s perception of need for services, and address barriers to treatment via motivational interviewing principles. The MCI will typically involve about a 60-minute session con- ducted with both the adolescent and their caregiver. The clinician, however, may work with the adolescent only for part of the session. A second 30-minute follow-up MCI session may be scheduled with the family, if necessary.

The MCI is designed to be delivered in conjunction with a time-limited, evidence-based intervention. For example, prior to participating in the evidence-based intervention, adolescents and their caregivers complete the MCI intervention in preparation for participation in the evidence-based intervention. In cases where the unacceptability of services is a major impediment to treatment initiation, the clinician will offer a second booster session of the MCI to families. Once treatment has begun, clinicians will continue to monitor the extent to which previous perceptual or actual barriers negatively influence treatment acceptability for adolescents and their caregivers and provide strategies to overcome these barriers.

Program factsheet